1. Modes of Thought

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What are the different modes of thought? How do you think and analyse reality? How do you go about making sense of your perceptions? These are my notes on what I’ve understood. It’s interesting that this subject is never approached in education. I think this is the most important subject of all. But there seems to be some sort of tacit conclusion that you will pick this up on your own, somehow. Personally, I think it’s worth thinking about.

I assume you’ve read through the preceding article. And you understand how one’s psyche gets in the way of objective thinking. We are all born with emotional drives that we need to fulfill to lead healthy lives, and these emotional drives push us towards certain modes of thought. Holding certain belief systems can make us feel better. Certain convictions satisfy us, and they make taking a step back hard.

This essays is broken into two parts. The first deals with concepts, the second with memes. The first part is closer to the analytic scientific tradition, to the realm of mathematics. The second is closer to the humanities, using the power of language to express.

Part 1: Concepts

1.1 Breaking it Down

The best approach to understand something is to break it down into its components, understand those components and the interactions between those components and put everything back together. Anything less than this will leave something to be satisfied. The only way to break down your assumptions is to ask why. Keep asking why. Take a disagreement you have with someone you respect. Suppose your views on politics are different. Why is that? What are your views based on? What assumptions are implicit in your reasoning?

Thus, perhaps in Physics you might decide that what you need to know is that there are elementary particles and they interact through the four fundamental forces. Know the relative strengths of the forces and know how elementary particles like quarks can combine to form particles such as protons. Perhaps glean a little insight into the big bang and into astrophysics. Thus, you might decide that the appropriate level of abstraction is particles and the interactions between a pair of particles at a time. You don’t really need to know what the interactions are, or what the particles are. All you need to know is that there are particles, there are distance dependent interactions between particles, and these interactions build up to give you what you see.

It can be helpful to build this manner of thinking into your life. When you see light streaming through your window, know it is a billion quadrillion photons per second jostling around, bumping off things, streaming into your retina. When you rest your palm on a handrail know it is the electrostatic force of repulsion between the electrons and protons in your hand and in the handrail that ensure you hand doesn’t simply go through the handrail. It’s better than saying that the table and the hand were ‘solid’ and hence the table ‘stopped’ the hand. That wasn’t understanding. I feel that as this manner of thinking embeds itself in you, understanding will build, and it’s easier to break down the world. Some claim this takes away our world’s ‘mystery’. Feynman counters.

In sum, try to find the appropriate level of abstraction, a level where you can say,”Okay. Abstracting at this point will capture the essentials.” It’s always a trade off. You need to know what your model is leaving out, and what it is capturing. But put down the components and their properties.

1.2 System ← Interaction → Environment

Once the system is understood, consider the environment. There’s a system, and the environment. And they act on each other. For example, your room is a ‘system’ and everything external is the ‘environment’. The sunlight streaming through your window is the interaction between the two, raising the room’s temperature by degrees. Causing your body to produce less melatonin. Thus, you don’t need to know anything about the environment, save the interactions it imposes on your system. The slight increase in your room’s temperature is a perturbation, a small change, in the system. Your car’s carbon dioxide emissions are a perturbation on the atmosphere, increasing the carbon dioxide present ever so slightly. And that is very relevant. Your car emits a miniscule amount of carbon dioxide in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, there are millions of cars, buses, trains, ships emitting their own miniscule amounts of carbon dioxide over decades. How does it all add up? Because our race’s survival could depend on the answer to this question. An exceedingly complex question at that. If someone asked you to consider the question of global warming, could you devise a method of answering the question, or at least breaking it down, and then arrive at an approximate answer? You start by deciding the system, which is the Earth’s atmosphere, and the environmental interactions, which are greenhouse gases being added and removed, and sunlight heating it. You could list all the greenhouse gases, order them by relative warming effect, see which ones are being emitted maximally by humans, and figure out for yourself if there would an effect on our planet’s climate or not.

1.3 The Worth of a Principle

System + Environment + Interactions thinking can get rather muddled when things get complicated. A great example is the messy muddle the nature versus nurture debate is. Take testosterone. It’s well argued that testosterone is linked to greater aggression. But I have some argue the reverse. What is the system here? And which way does the interaction go? They reverse the relation and say, greater aggression could well generate testosterone. The deeper question is, do your characteristics affect how you react to your environment, or does your environment shape your characteristics. Most people agree the truth is somewhere in between, but the point to take away here is that isn’t always easy to break it down into system and environment. And here is where a principle can help. Evolutionarily, a human can face a whole range of environments. But we have limited means of encoding responses in DNA. Thus, our DNA must encode a response mechanism that can tailor responses to a wide range of environments. And it seems more logical on the face of it, that our levels of hormones such as testosterone are modulated by the environment to provide appropriate responses. Violent environments will increase testosterone levels to ensure you are aggressive enough to survive that environment. If a system is too complex, looking to a underlying, fundamental principle can help.

1.4 Perturbations

Perturbations are a wonderful method of thinking about changes in a system! Take you and your best friend, and think of how complex the interaction between the two of you is. Now add another friend to the mix. Now, how does the conversation change? Is the change slight or drastic? Can you model the new conversation as the old conversation plus a slight change? What if you had a group of 20 people to start with. And then you added 1 more person? Surely the change in this second scenario would be a lot less. A conversation isn’t going to deviate much if 1 person is added to a group of 20. In the second scenario, you most certainly have a perturbation. What is the intuitive sense of a perturbation? The original situation remains, plus an additional portion. This additional portion is the perturbation. As long as this additional portion does not change the character of the original situation, but only acts to produce a small change, you have a perturbation. And, you can expect the result to closely resemble the initial situation. Thus, frame your system such that the change is small, and look for the ensuing minor deviation, called the perturbation. The caveat here is that not every change will be small enough to stay a perturbation. This discussion has a much broader implication. In a perturbative scenario, you use what you already know to solve the problem. And this is almost always the case. You solve a situation based off something you already know, something which closely resembles in some manner the situation at hand. This is why, to be good, you need practice. It isn’t wholly innate. Expertise is a developed familiarity. An expert is someone who has simply encountered so much that no situation is completely unfamiliar, but that it corresponds to something they already know.

1.5 Systems Thinking & Emergence

To continue the previous example, continue to add more friends to your three member group. And more. Your group will break up into two groups. Then more groups will split and re-form. Why do groups form? Are there rules governing this? What is the size of a group. Do alike people somehow unconsciously gravitate towards each other. Do some groups break apart as people gravitate towards more attractive groups. Expand this to a neighbourhood, and a city. The ensuing complexity is emergence. But perhaps this is too much. Let us back off a little. Take anthills. Ants follow very simple behavourial rules. For example rules used to communicate, laying down pheromones when moving and following pheromones. When thousands of ants follow these simple rules, the tangled web of complex interactions produces emergent behaviour. Behaviour that makes no sense at the level of a single ant, but composes itself at the level of an anthill. In a system, look for emergent behaviour. If you can find the overarching rule, then you do not need to know the simpler interactions, since the overarching rule smooths over everything below it.

1.6 Descriptor Complexity

This is the length of your description. What is the length of the mathematical expression or sentence used to describe something. For example, this article. It is 7000+ words long. Could it have been shorter? Could this sentence be shorter? The aim is to have the shortest descriptor possible. This is why levels of abstraction come in. A higher level means you compress and capture greater complexity in your symbols. There is a practically infinite amount of knowledge in this world. How do you make that manageable. How do you describe an anthill? Do you describe every single ant’s behaviour, or do you say, on the whole, this is what we see? Formalized, this is called Kolmogorov Complexity. The greater complexity the model abstracts away, or the shorter your descriptor, the more powerful your model. There is no power in a model which is not an abstraction, because that model would then be an exact replica of the system under consideration itself, and that would be pointless.

1.7 Noise in Systems

What are the trade-offs with  higher levels of abstraction? You’re ‘smoothing over’ complex phenomena. But what the means you’re losing track of the little ups and downs, the little fluctuations, that go on. If I say the average temperature today was 30 degrees, that tells me nothing about what really went on during the day. Did it stay at 30 degrees all throughout? Or did it see-saw from 0 to 60 every 5 minutes? I have no way of knowing. But what if I say that it seesawed every 5 minutes? I still don’t know what happened between those 5 minutes. The high level abstraction sweeps all the ‘noise’ of what really happened. On the other hand, complex descriptions are complex. Thus, your description will have to be powerful enough such that noise does not overpower your higher level abstraction.

1.8 Equilibrium

Equilibrium means the overall rate of change is zero. It does not mean nothing is happening. All it means is that whatever is happening, is balancing out. So if you put a glass of water out there and the level stays constant, it means the number of water molecules evaporating into the atmosphere equal the number condensing into the water from the atmosphere. Let’s try another example. Every once in a way, we have this discussion on whether the average person is trustworthy, and this is the answer. Let’s start out with a society where folks are 100% trustworthy. If someone asks for a hundred bucks and says they’ll return it tomorrow on the dot, they sure will. Everyone trusts everyone else. Things are truly wonderful. Then, one day, Machiavellian Machiavelli realises that he can ask for a hundred bucks and disappear! And since everyone is trusty, he can do it again. And again. And again. But hold on a second. News of his Machiavellian-ness spreads and everyone keeps one sharp eye out for him. And then it strikes everyone. If Machiavelli can do it, I can do it. So everyone proceeds on a massive cheating spree. And cooperation grinds to a halt. Absolutely no one trusts anyone else. Now, Pollyannish Pollyanna dismisses all this cheating as nonsense, and continues to trust and reciprocate trust no matter how many times she was cheated. And she was one person everyone turned to. And then it struck some people, that if you were trustworthy, everyone wanted you, and everyone helped you. And they began to trust each other again. But there was another Machiavelli, and another Pollyanna. And the behaviors sloshed back and forth. But each time, less people were turned. So thePollyannas and some Machiavellis balanced each other out. The system reached equilibrium. (I think this is correctly called a Nash Equilibrium.) Thus a complex pattern of behaviour was brought to equilibrium. A quick thought experiment here would be to examine what sort of level of abstraction the Nash Equilibrium in this case is, if you think it is a good abstraction, if it is a short enough descriptor, and what the sources of ‘noise’ could be that disturb the Nash Equilibrium. Even more interesting, what would be a perturbation on the Nash Equilibrium here? Such that you would be brought to another Nash Equilibrium? And finally, how does the description above apply to you? After all, I did describe people behaving, so it must apply to you in some manner.

1.9 Approaching Equilibrium

There is something very interesting to note here. How did society approach equilibrium? We discussed how people’s behaviours sloshed back and forth. While the final result was some sort of mixture of the two kinds of behaviours. This means society went back and forth between extremes before settling down. In other words, it oscillated. Another method in which systems hit equilibrium is asymptotically. Put roughly, the pace at which they approach equilibrium is directly proportional to how much further they have to go to reach equilibrium. That is, as they get closer, they slow down. And, not to forget, change is always gradual. You never have a ‘kink’ in natural phenomena. Plus, there will always be inertia in any system. Always good to remember when studying how change takes place.

1.10 Boundary Conditions

Boundary conditions are useful if you don’t know where to start, or need that something ‘extra’ to figure your equations out. A boundary is simply something you system cannot cross. A car always has zero velocity when it starts. And then you say, let the car start at time ‘0’. Thus, velocity is 0 at time 0, and you have a boundary condition. An engrossing real world example would be interest rates. An interest rate cannot go below zero. That’s why, during a recession, when Central Banks try stimulus measures, they hit the boundary condition upon lowering rates to 0%. If you’re analyzing stimulus measures, that’s a place to start. It’s your boundary. What happens if interest rates are 0%? How do things change if interest rates rise? At what level of increase do things change significantly from the boundary state? For example, if there much a difference if rates go to 0.01%? 0.1%? 1%? That’s tells you another useful thing about boundary conditions. They can also tell you what will happen close to the boundary, and because a boundary condition is easy to figure out, that’s very useful.

1.11 Feedback in Systems

We discussed the system <-> environment approach. But what about interactions (feedback) generated by the system, that act on the system? Such feedback can add or it subtract. In our previous example, the news of Machiavelli’s behaviour spreading among people is the feedback. Society is the system, and it generates feedback that acts on itself. In this case the feedback reduced the chance for Machiavelli to cheat people; it was negative feedback. It reduced the incidence of his behaviour. What would positive feedback be? For example, ice is white, it is good at reflecting light. When the temperature rises, and ice melts, and darker colored ground is exposed. This ground is a better absorber of light. It heats up more, then more ice melts and so on. This is positive feedback, where the system’s behaviour enhances a process. As you can see, negative feedback leads to stability. Positive feedback causes things to spiral out of control.

An interesting example to see how you can use this approach to design a system, is to think of society as a control systems problem. You have three components, a) individuals b) organizations and c) government. And you design a system using laws to ensure all generate feedback to push against each other and balance each other out. How do you design this system, such that the feedback stabilizes the system, keeping it at equilibrium while maximizing people’s happiness? Aside, my opinions on politics and government are here.

At this point, I would highly recommend studying the damped harmonic oscillator to understand basic control systems, oscillation, over and under damping. It’s rather straightforward and incredibly edifying.

1.12 Scaling a System

This is where things can get really interesting. Parameters can have varying effects as a system scales. So, if you blow a balloon up, assuming a sphere, the surface area of the balloon goes by the second order of the radius Area = ᴨr2 but the volume goes by the third order V = ᴨr3. To get some sort of intuitive feel for how this affects physical systems, here’s something on how cities scale. You probably live in a city or town. What happens if your city expands? How does that affects congestion, utilities, transport, school density, food distribution, administration complexity and so on? Another fascinating example is us, living organisms. What happens when living organisms get bigger? Is there a limit? What about society? Can a human society grow forever? My thoughts on society are here. But this basically holds, always look for higher order effects, because they will overwhelm lower order effects as a system scales up.

1.13 Entropy

I can’t get away with discussing systems if I don’t include entropy. Simply put, the amount of disorder in a system increases over time. If that sounds complicated, think about this. Do your shoelaces ever tie themselves? Does your room every tidy itself? Does spilt milk every un-spill? Why not? Every event is reversible. Things can go either way. Instead, things tend to disorder. You may argue that you can tidy your room and return things to order. However, you have to put in effort to tidy your room. Your body burns through energy. To do work. And you well counterbalance any order you produce through the disorder produced by your body. In other words, any local increase in order is offset by an equal or greater increase in disorder elsewhere. Because no processes are 100% efficient, there will be a greater increase in disorder elsewhere. Thus entropy is the amount of disorder in a system and it always increases. The prototypical example is, if you spray deodourant in a corner of a room, it will spread itself out over the entire room. The initial state had high order (deodourant was separated out to a corner) and the final state had low order (deodourant evenly spread). The essential intuition to take away here is that entropy is associated with a ‘smearing out’. As entropy increases, this smearing out increases as order is destroyed and disorder asserts itself.

1.14 The Two Cardinal Approaches

We started out talking about how important it is to start from the basics. And then partway in, we switched to talking about high level abstractions that do away with these basics. There are two methods of analysis then. The bottom up and the top down. Obviously, for true understanding, you need bottom up. When you have complicated systems, the bottom up approach is too complicated. So if your system is simple enough, you go bottom up. If your system is a mess, you go top down. Biology lends itself to the top down approach. But in Physics, it’s bottom up.

One mistake made with the top down approach is that people don’t understand the point of a top down approach. In contrast to the bottom up approach, the top down approach will always give an approximation, and it will fail to account for a number of special cases. Yet, when a generalized top down approach is proposed, opponents will bring out specialized cases to defeat it, instead of considering the merits of a generalized approach and understanding how it constitutes a starting point and not an ending point.

1.15 Fundamental Constraints

This is elementary, but I want to note that every interaction is constrained by space and time. That is, everything has to cross space and time to complete. For example, if you’re studying how society works, you could bring it down to how information bridges the space between people in time. And this information flow constitutes society. It’s good to remember this, even if it sounds stupid. Take a shot at Rolf Landauer’s paper titled “Information is a Physical Entity” for what I’m getting when I say everything has to be tied back to space and time.

1.16 Introducing Part 2: Mathematics & Language

We use either mathematics or language to describe things. They seem to be ‘opposed’. What is math? It would be fair to say that the defining feature of math is rigour. Everything must be as precisely defined as possible, otherwise it is thrown out. But what’s the point of language? Can we simply use math to describe everything? Is there even a mathematical method of saying “I am reading”? You could say {Person: Me {Action: Reading}}. But then what is ‘me’? What is ‘reading’? They could mean anything, you could be reading a paperback, on a PC, reading a road sign, the possibilities are endless. What is ‘me’? A person? How do you define a person? You can’t. Both ‘reading’ and ‘me’ refer to a range which the concept in question refers to. Reading could refer to all of the above. But imagine mathematically describing every single thing reading could refer to! It would take you pages and pages and pages to do that. Instead, you simply use language and say ‘reading’. The word ‘reading’ can convey so, so much more than pages of mathematically rigorous definitions. It could convey emotion, it could convey nostalgia, it could convey a desire to read a book. It awakes all sorts of sensations and emotions. Put together, these constitute the word ‘reading’ for you and are based off all your prior experiences that associate with that word. Your understanding of a word has been derived from every single experience that you have associated with that word. And language leverages that. Language does not need to define everything. It uses words that have already been defined through experience. In the fuzziness of language lies its power. Part 2 talks about memes and language.

Part 2: Memes

A meme, as I understand, is simply an idea. A mental construct. So ‘God’ is a meme. Or ‘capitalism’ is a meme. ‘Meme’ is a meme. Memes, or ideas, circulate in human society. Memes are emergent in the sense that while a meme can be held in an individual’s mind, they act on a societal level. Memes circulate through society. The best example is of competing religions. Each religion is a meme circulating through human society. Or socio-political theories. Every theory is a meme. These memes act on groups of people. Each meme has followers. These followers form something quite akin to an organism. A meme could not survive without minds to hold it. The more minds that hold it, the stronger it is. This is the field of memetics. The analogy to genetics is on purpose. Just as genes compete for survival amongst themselves by expressing themselves through individuals, individuals being their carriers, memes compete for survival among groups of people, expressing themselves through group action. These very properties make memes children of evolution. It does not matters if a meme is true. All that matters is if it carries survival potential. Does a meme help its followers survive? And concomitantly, does it help itself survive?

2.1 Social Constructivist Theory of Knowledge

All knowledge is socially constructed. What does that mean? Are electrons and protons socially constructed? Well, do you know if electrons exist? You know electrons exist because someone told you. Everything you know has been told to you by someone else. There is very little that you yourself have discovered (if anything at all). In that sense, one’s knowledge is socially constructed. And what you believe in is some sort of result of what everyone believes in. So most people believe in electrons and tell you they exist. So you believe in them. Or, think of it this way. Memes circulate in society and you receive these memes. It is up to you to accept or reject them. Thus society constructs these memes and you can take or leave them. Whatever it is, your knowledge is socially (memetically?) constructed.

2.2 Memes & Language

Memes express themselves through language. I’d argue that to understand memes, one has to understand the effect of language on us. For example, read political speeches to note the placement and usage of words, and see what emotions they draw out in you. See what the use of a word, reveals about the unconscious of the person using it. What other words could they have used, and why did they use that word? Language builds upon the manner in which humans learn, through layers of experiences which are then associated with a word or words. The word embodies experience, and every word is a meme. It is a mental construct that embodies something, that means something to you through repeated use and experience of its use. Ever more complex memes assemble themselves on the building blocks of lesser memes, and of words as memes. Language is the stuff of memes.

2.3 Meme Evaluation

You must evaluate every meme you receive. But how do you do so? If someone tells you the Earth is 150 million miles from the Sun and someone tells you the Earth is 151 million miles from the Sun, then which one do you choose? You consult the Encyclopedia? But isn’t the Encyclopedia also someone telling you something? How do you know it is right? Is truth simply the meme that occurs the most? 150 million miles occurs the most, thus it must be correct? Sure, you could the methods of Part 1 to analyze systems, but let’s assume here that you don’t have the background to verify the memes you receive. In Science, peer review is used to filter through memes. There is a system to validate and check every meme. But what about the real world. We have organizations such as PolitiFact performing the service for us. Thus, must we now have specialized groups that sort through memes for us? Because, clearly you and me lack the knowledge and expertise to sort through the vast majority of memes that are pelted at us everyday. Note the ‘fact’ in PolitiFact. PolitiFact checks facts, it cannot check opinions. What is one to make of opinions? Of “small government is good” or “small government is bad”? Perhaps we need to back up and put things in context.

2.4 Memes are driven by Evolution

If we learn to analyse ideas in the appropriate context, perhaps we’ll have ways of dealing with memes that help us evaluate and understand them. To understand memes, it might help to start with evolution. Previously, we were concerned with whether a meme was true. Alternatively, we could ask if a meme help its adherents survive? Is it the meme best suited to survival? Because only those memes that let their followers survive will propagate. By way of example, Haley’s Comet appeared prior to the Battle of Hastings and was thought to be a good omen for William the Conqueror and a bad omen for King Harold. Of course it meant nothing of this sort, but the fact remains that William won the battle. Obviously, people would conclude the comet was indeed an omen, and it would have self fulfilling prophetic value because the side which thought it positive would take heart from, and other side would not. Thus, simply believing in an untrue meme meant you would fight harder and survive. Sort of like a placebo effect. The result being the meme which the survivor’s mind carries would propagate. Clearly, a meme’s truth value scarcely matters. Another case in point is the people who say vaccines cause autism. Clearly flawed, but the meme combines and twists parents’ protective instincts and a fear of authority into a powerful group movement. And the meme propagates. But then you could argue, if this group does not get their children vaccinated, their children will die and so will the meme with it. Using an evolutionary approach, I feel one better understands memes. It’s also useful to keep in mind that evolution drives to extremes, as memes outdo each other to survive. Or rather, only the most extreme will survive! That explains ‘shock value’. A meme with shock value will garner, or rather, corner mindspace in the social consciousness. And it will thus survive. Thus, the point is to learn to judge memes without having to decided if they are true.

2.5 Averaging Memes

We discussed that perhaps there is no way of evaluating the truth of the vast majority of memes on the basis of the memes themselves. There have to be other methods. One idea is to assume that “the truth is somewhere in the middle”. My favourite example of this is socio-political theories. I feel libertarians get part of the picture – the power of the free market, and of individual rights. Communists get another part of the picture – the need for government to enforce the social contract and ensure basic needs are provided for all. That is why I’m a social democrat, because communism and libertarianism get part of the picture, and the truth is in the middle. Thus even if you don’t have the expertise, you can always check to see if you can somehow unify the memes in circulation to get the full picture.

2.6 Judging by Intent

Another method of evaluating memes is understanding the motives and the reason behind them. Politicians are a great example. What is a politician’s function? To get elected. To do that means appealing to a broad enough set of voters. That explains why politicians don’t provide straight answers so that they avoid alienating voters, even if their personal convictions provide a straight answer. For example, circa 2012, Obama’s his views on gay rights. Obviously someone like Obama with liberal roots, someone who has smoked marijuana in college, would support gay rights. Then why does he equivocate on the issue if his personal beliefs are pro-gay rights. Because he can’t afford to alienate voters who are anti gay rights. The voters in question would be swing voters, those who are moderates and fall between the Republican and Democrat camps. He certainly can’t afford to lose them. On the other hand, he can certainly afford to annoy pro gay voters because they will vote for him anyway. It’s simple calculation. Hence, when you hear Obama equivocate on gay rights, you know right away that you can dismiss those views as not really his, and that personally he is pro gay rights. Thus, when matching what politicians say with what their personal beliefs should be, you can judge the worth of the memes they put out. And this goes for anyone. If you can understand why a person is saying something, then you can judge their memes.

2.7 Judging by Psyche

This tracks back to the preceding article. Are the memes that a person holds somehow satisfying their emotional drives. Assuming we are driven by emotion, we could assume that all memes do appeal to emotion. Are the memes a person believes in held because the person thinks them to be true or because it validates their ideas, it plays into their preconceived beliefs etc. Whenever someone proposes an idea, it’s useful to note their manner of speech, body language and tone to decipher how that idea comes across to them. That can help establish the emotional relation between the idea and them is established. How about, by way of example, I describe how I would analyze this essay, were I a third person reading it. Is the author of this essay writing his thoughts down on “how to think” because he has something to say, or does he want to be validated? Does it feed his ego, to write the essay and have people read it? Maybe he just wants to be heard out. Where does the emotional drive for writing this essay come from. Sure, the author might think he’s writing it because he genuinely believes this to be true, but is that the emotional drive or is it something deeper. Perhaps the validation received when other people read this feeds into a need to be recognized, and a desire to project intelligence. Is this essay the result of a pretentious attempt at appearing knowledgeable and thoughtful or is it genuine. You could even meta-analyse this and ask if, by performing a third person psychoanalysis of reasons for writing the essay, is the author seeking to use reverse psychology to persuade you, the reader, of its genuineness. It is up to you to decide this using your intuition and feel out how the meme comes across.

2.8 In the Ultimate Analysis

Just as genes confer survival value, memetics confer survival value. The difference that genetics works at the level of the individual, while memetics is an emergent, societal phenomenon. For example, religious memes, confer immense psychological, social and cultural advantages. Their value lies in survival, not in truth value.

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